Family Adopts Girl With Dwarfism; 23 Years Later, This Is Her Life
Hannah Kritzek was a very special girl from birth. She was born with dwarfism, specifically primordial dwarfism. Although her birth mother put Hannah up for adoption, she was soon adopted by a new, loving family. Sadly, her adoptive family was told that Hannah wouldn’t have long to live and would experience a slew of medical issues due to her condition. Well, today she’s 23 years old and it looks like nothing is keeping her down. From acting to dancing and singing, she does it all and is focused on accomplishing her dreams. Read on to learn about this amazing woman who is defying all the odds and shinning like a star.
1. An Unusual Birth
From conception, Hannah Kritzeck was different from other babies. She was smaller, more fragile than the others and from the moment she was born, her life was more difficult than others’. Hannah was born with dwarfism.
Hannah’s birth mother put her up for adoption after she was born. Little else is known about her birth mother other than that. Many people at the time believed that because she was diagnosed with dwarfism, she would have a hard time getting adopted. But that wasn’t the case at all.
2. Meet the Kritzecks
Hannah was adopted by a wonderful family, Jackie and Larry Kritzeck. Together they were a family of six, including Hannah. In just one day Hannah gained a mother, father, two brothers and a sister. It was a dream come true.
The Krizecks saved Hannah from life in an orphanage and accepted Hannah just as she was. What they didn’t know was that Hannah would end up saving them, just as much as they saved her.
3. A Normal Childhood
Growing up, Hannah had a pretty normal childhood. She was treated no different than her siblings but she always knew something wasn’t the same. “Growing up I always knew I was different from my brothers, Mark and Matt, and my sister, Kelly, who were average height,” Hannah said.
But Hannah didn’t let that difference get to her. She managed to grow up as any other kid for the most part, despite being so small. As she says, her mom and dad made sure that she had a normal childhood.
4. Whatever It Takes
Hannah’s parents did everything they could to make sure that their daughter Hannah was treated the same as everyone else. They even went as far as to remodel their house to accommodate Hannah’s height.
“They lowered all the light switches and put stools in the bathroom and kitchen because I can’t reach the counter and sinks,” Hannah stated. But there was nothing that her parents could have done to fully prepare her for what was about to come.
5. Trouble Starts
Not even the most picture-perfect childhood would prepare Hannah for what was about to come at school. As everyone knows, kids can be cruel. And school was no different for Hannah than it was for everyone else, except possibly worse.
Like many kids, Hannah was bullied for being different. Kids would frequently make jokes about her height and how she looked like a young child. But Hannah had been raised well and in a positive environment. She didn’t let it get to her.
6. A Go-Getter
Those kids that bullied her would come to regret their actions after seeing how successful Hannah would become. She took their negativity and turned it into motivation to be the very best she could be, even if that meant failing sometimes.
There was nothing that Hannah didn’t love to do. She was a go-getter and put her heart and soul into every activity. Although, she didn’t particularly like school and homework, who could blame her? Few do.
While Hannah always knew that she was different from the other kids, for a long time she didn’t know the reason why or what her disorder was called. When she was old enough to understand, her parents explained it to her.
Hannah’s parents, Jackie and Larry, explained to Hannah that she had something called Primordial dwarfism, a very rare disorder that only effects around 100 people in the entire world. They explained to her that she was special but that she could do anything she set her mind to.
Despite the bullying that Hannah endured at school, she made the most of her time there and joined a number of extracurricular activities. Having been in dance since she was two years old, Hannah joined the cheerleading team at her high school in White Bear, Minnesota.
Hannah shined as a cheerleader due to her high energy, flexibility and background in dance. Even though she stuck out from the other girls, she was able to keep up with the best of them and always cheer her team on.
9. Medical Issues
Hannah Kritzeck has a number of medical issues due to her primordial dwarfism and needs to go to the doctor often for check-ups. She regularly needs to check her blood pressure and is at risk for a number of lethal diseases.
When Hannah was younger she had to have metal rods implanted in her back to correct a spinal curvature issue. More recently, she had to have a procedure on her feet to correct a tendon issue. But she wasn’t about to let all of that get to her.
10. The Force That Drives Her
Hannah Kritzeck is determined to live a full, thriving life despite her dire medical condition. The estimated life expectancy for a person with primordial dwarfism is 20 to 30 years. Today, Hannah is 23 years old.
Quite the opposite. It’s part of the force that drives her to success and greatness. She knows that she doesn’t have long to enjoy life, so she is taking it by the horns. Her incredible spirit has allowed her to do amazing things.
11. Big Dreams
Despite all the medical issues and a shortened life-expectancy, Hannah Kritzeck doesn’t give up hope whatsoever and is determined to pursue her life’s passions. She has resolved to live every day to its fullest and live every day like it might be her last.
Hannah doesn’t let the fact that she might not live past her 30th birthday get to her. She continues to live life and has big dreams in mind for her future. She is full of positive energy and optimism, something that we could all learn from her.
12. The Theater
Hannah’s short stature hasn’t stopped her from accomplishing her goals and dreams. She landed a part in a theater group and toured Europe and Australia, performing a play called Doll House. But that would be just the start of her acting career.
Hannah also is a great dancer. She dances ballet and hip-hop. According to her, she loves ballet because it is soothing and calms her down and she loves hip hop because it makes her feel strong.
13. The Triple Threat
Hannah’s dance teacher says that Hannah is great at freestyling, and can keep up with the other dancers. She says that she even might be better than some of the other dancers at freestyling, even though she stands at barely three feet tall.
Her friends and teachers refer to Hannah as a “triple threat” because she loves dancing, acting and also singing. It isn’t all pure talent. Hannah works very hard day in and day out to be so accomplished.
Hannah Kritzeck was a guest on the 2,500th episode of Maury Povich’s talk show, “Maury”, to talk about her condition and explain to audiences worldwide what it means to have primordial dwarfism. Then she received a shocking surprise for her 18th birthday.
Maury had Hannah’s biggest idol, Selena Gomez, record a personal birthday message for her. Hannah also was given tickets to one of Selena’s concerts, with backstage passes. Hannah met the singer after the concert and the two even snapped a picture together.
15. Looking For Love
Meeting her idol Selena Gomez put even more fire in Hannah’s spark as her career really started taking off after that. She appeared in a number of movies and TV shows and then she landed something truly amazing.
Hannah was hired to be in a documentary in 2014 called “Little and Looking for Love.” The series was about Hannah’s journey and struggle in finding love. “Lots of my friends have boyfriends – I’d like to have a boyfriend, and I believe in romance – but I just haven’t got it yet,” Hannah stated.
16. Hannah’s Ideal Man
“My ideal man would be someone with blue eyes, brown hair and a mohawk – and someone who would protect me. Looking to the future, I’d like to get married and have my own family,” Hannah said. Adding to that, she would like to one day have a family of her own.
Hannah got some devastating news from her doctors, however. According to them, it would be extremely dangerous for Hannah to ever have a baby. Hannah, however, took the news with a big grain of salt. She says that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. Maybe adoption will one day be in the future?
17. An Illness
One day Hannah’s mother Jackie fell gravely ill. It all started with some minor headaches and stomach pain, then it grew into something much, much more serious. She was rushed to the hospital in a panic.
A CT scan of Jackie confirmed what the doctors feared: there was an issue with her kidneys. Jackie had a disorder known as polycystic kidney disease, a potentially life-threatening disease which could cause both of her kidneys to shut down.
18. A Secret
Hannah’s mother Jackie was in need of a kidney transplant, and fast. She was put on the donor list, but there was no telling how long it would take to receive a donor kidney, if at all, before it was too late.
With this in mind, Hannah made a secret appointment with the doctors to find out if she was a compatible donor. She wasn’t about to sit around and let her mother suffer or possibly pass away without doing everything in her power.
19. A Danger
Without anyone else knowing about the appointment with the doctors, Hannah got tested to see if she was a match for a kidney transplant with her adoptive mother. Everyone was shocked by the results. It turned out she was a match!
Even though she was a match, the doctors warned her against donating a kidney due to her own medical condition. They warned her that it could be dangerous to herself if she decided to go through with it. What she did next would make her a hero.
20. A Shocking Decision
Just as her mother saved Hannah’s life by adopting her, Hannah decided that she would do the same for her mother in any way possible. She decided that she was going to donate one of her own kidneys to save her mother’s life.
Everyone was shocked when they found out that Hannah had gone to such lengths without telling anyone. They were even more shocked when they learned that Hannah was going to be the donor, even if it meant putting her own life in jeopardy.
21. The Wait
The family waited for what seemed like an eternity in the waiting room, just waiting for word of their mother and sister. They prayed that the operation would be a success and both Hannah and Jackie Kritzeck would come out healthy.
That day, lady luck was on their side. They came out of surgery with good news that both of them were doing fine and expected to make full recoveries. But while her mother pulled through, there would tragically be more medical issues for Hannah.
22. The Little Things
Hannah knows that her conditions have limited her life in some ways, but at every step, she finds a way to overcome the challenges. Every once in a while though, little things do get to her, like the simple task of buying clothes.
For Hannah, it’s not so simple. “I go shopping with my friends but finding clothes that fit me is extremely difficult. I always have to get my clothes tailored or in a kids size – I can’t buy high heeled shoes like my other friends.”
23. Medical Checks
Apart from her routine medical checks and having a full team of doctors, Hannah’s condition comes with other medical issues. She has to go in annually to have an MRI scan of her brain as there is a high chance of developing brain aneurysms with her condition.
When she was younger she also had to have her teeth removed and have dental implants placed in her mouth instead because her teeth and mouth are so small. But don’t expect to hear Hannah complain about her situation.
24. Worries of a Mother
Hannah’s mother, on the other hand, can’t help but worry about her daughter. Especially concerning her diminished life expectancy. “The risks are always going to be there and yes that does worry me a lot,” Jackie Kritzeck said regarding her daughter’s life expectancy.
“Hannah does have a dream to have her own family, to have a husband, to have a child. I guess delving into her life expectancy is a hard thing. I don’t like to talk about it but do need to face it,” she added.
25. Living in the Now
According to Hannah’s mother, “We’re just going to live each day like there isn’t one tomorrow. That’s all you can do. Live to the fullest.” That’s been Hannah and her mother’s motto since the day they adopted her.
“My advice to anyone living with the condition would be to never give up on your dream – and keep trying,” Hannah says. She cherishes each day that she is given, a lesson that we can all learn from. But Hannah isn’t the only inspirational person with the condition.
Another amazing person diagnosed with primordial dwarfism is Kenadie Jourdin-Bromley, who at birth was nicknamed ‘Thumbelina’ by the nurses. She was born weighing just 2.5 pounds and was told by doctors that she would only live a few days.
“We baptized her right away because we were told that we should just bring her home to die,” her mother Brianne told reporters. Kenadie was also born missing part of her brain. Fortunately, she defied the doctors’ grim expectations.
27. Positive Outlooks
“Kenadie makes me laugh. She’s very empathetic—if you hurt your finger, she comes and gives you a hug. She’s got an infectious laugh that just makes you want to laugh along with her,” her personal school assistant told Barcroft TV.
Even though she may be small in stature, Kenadie is just another girl at heart. She, like Hannah, doesn’t let her disorder get to her and keeps a positive attitude toward life, even though her life will possibly be shorter than most.
28. A Test Of Faith
“Kenadie has definitely tested my faith many, many times,” said her mother, Brianne Jourdin. “On the hard days – you know, the days we have to watch her struggle.” One can only imagine what a mother like Brianne must face.
“If we can get through today, then we’ll see tomorrow. That’s pretty much it. I can’t really make too many plans for the future. My life will always be dedicated to being there for her,” her mother told reporters.
Today Kenadie is still hanging in there and living life to its fullest. She even starred in a Dutch movie called Eep! in 2010 about a tiny girl with wings for arms. Aside from that, she has been the subject of several TV documentaries.
One of them was Incredibly Small: Kenadie’s Story, released in 2008 when she was only five years old. The second was in the documentary Born Different: Unbelievable Medical Conditions. In 2011, she also featured in a documentary called Tiniest Tween: Kenadie’s Story.
30. A Medical Marvel
Today, Kenadie is 15-years-old and considered a medical marvel. Her brain is less developed than that of other teens her age, though. She attends school like the other kids but has a personal instructor that teaches her a different curriculum
She is only 39 inches tall, but stays active and enjoys tons of activities like ice skating and bowling. She has even taken up swimming as a hobby. Overall, Kenadie has grown up to be happy and bright.
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